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News update for January 8, 2003

Team Coast admits that Høj's contract was not UCI-point regulated

By Kim Plesner, Sportenkort.dk

"If a team cannot pay their riders, they should be excluded. Since 1998 we have had to fight the medical doping and now the international pro cycling faces a new problem: the bureaucratic doping," ONCE sports director Manolo Saiz (also president of the professional cycling teams association) said to Danish TV2, referring to the ongoing saga of Team Coast apparently not paying their former riders Lars Michaelsen, Frank Høj and Mauro Gianetti.

The saga continues. Until now, Team Coast sports director Marcel Wüst has claimed that the riders were not paid, as their contracts were based on how many UCI points they achieved during the season. But now Wüst admits that Frank Høj's contract was not at all UCI point regulated.

"That is correct, but the reason he has not been paid is that he has to pay German tax and VAT, and furthermore we have not received any invoices from him in order to pay his salary," Wüst explains when asked by the Danish website sportenkort.dk, who have had access to Høj's contract.

Frank Høj and Marcel Wüst made the new contract in March 2002, as Høj was getting frustrated about not receiving any salary. They made a simple contract, in which Team Coast had to pay the Danish rider 12 installments of a fixed salary with no bonus clauses or UCI point regulations of any kind. With the new contract in hand, Høj got paid up until May 2002, but since then he has not received any money from his former employer.

"First of all, my contract does not say anything about me having to invoice Team Coast to get my salary," Høj continued. "It does not mention anything about German taxes and/or VAT. I pay my taxes in Luxembourg where I live, and as a private person I'm obviously not registered to pay VAT. If what Marcel tells you was right, why did they pay me the first 5 months of salary without getting an invoice from me? And how come they did not at that time inform me about the German tax and VAT?"

Meanwhile Mauro Gianetti has decided to press charges against his former team. Both Gianetti and Michaelsen claim that there wasn't even a UCI point regulation in the original contracts from 2001.

"We want them to go to court," Marcel Wüst tells sportenkort.dk. "Here in Germany, if an employee does not get paid, he goes to court. Why didn't Michaelsen press charges last year?," the former top sprinter asks. "We have delivered all information to the UCI, and we are confident that they will approve Team Coast as a member of the 2003 Division I."

This week the UCI has to decide whether to include Team Coast in the new Top 10 Club of Division I teams, which are guaranteed to participate in all the major events of 2003. The German team failed to make the original December 18 deadline, but then the UCI postponed the deadline to January 10. If Team Coast is approved as a Top 10 Club member, it is believed it will sign the 1997 winner of the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, to a 3 year deal.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)